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People using cannabis of high potency on a regular basis, are more susceptible to developing a psychotic episode later in life, suggested a recently published study. Since U.S. states have increasingly started legalizing weed, there has been a marked increase in its usage. However, there are a lot of serious health risks related to frequent pot use and one of them is the risk of developing psychosis.
According to the study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, high-potency cannabis can be defined as products which have more than 10 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound responsible for the psychotropic actions of cannabis. Since THC-based cannabis products are more commonly and easily available in the market, the risk of abusing them is also higher.
The study also revealed that London, Amsterdam, and Paris are the three European cities where high-potency cannabis is the most commonly available. These cities also have higher recorded rates of new incidents of psychosis, as compared to other cities.
Cannabis usage strongly related to incidence of psychosis
The researchers studied 901 individuals in the age group of 18 to 64 and who were diagnosed with their first occurrence of psychotic episode between May 2010 and April 2015. These people belonged to 11 cities that included Amsterdam, London, Barcelona, Paris, and a few other cities across Europe and one in Brazil.
The researchers questioned these 901 individuals and a control group of more than 1200 healthy individuals on their habits regarding the usage of weed. Study author, Dr. Marta Di Forti stated that they quizzed the participants on whether they used cannabis, and if yes, what kind, and when had they started using it.
Based on the names of the weed strains provided by the study participants and the data gathered by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the national data collected from several countries, the researchers identified the THC content in the products used.
After analyzing the data, the study found that individuals who smoked pot everyday were three times more susceptible to developing a psychotic episode, as compared to individuals who never used pot. Also, individuals who started using cannabis as early as at 15 years of age or even earlier, were at an increased risk of developing psychosis, as compared to individuals who started using it in their later years. According to Dr. Forti, the chances of developing psychosis increased four times in those individuals who used high-potency pot regularly as compared to those individuals who had never used the substance.
Easy availability of high potency cannabis – a recent phenomenon
Dr. Forti also pointed out that the easy accessibility of high-potency cannabis is a recent phenomenon, since 20 years ago weed containing such high levels of THC was not available in the market. According to another recent study, Europe and the United States have witnessed an average increase in the potency of weed from 8.9 percent in 2008 to 17.1 percent in 2017. Some of the products available in the market these days have an even higher potency.
The study also revealed that London, Amsterdam, and Paris recorded the highest rates of fresh diagnosis of psychotic episodes and these cities were the ones where high-potency weed was also more easily available. London recorded 45.7 percent fresh incidence of psychosis per 100,000 person-years, Paris recorded 46.1 percent, and Amsterdam recorded 37.9 percent.
However, cities such as Italy, Spain, and France recorded less than 10 percent THC content in the most popular products available in the market. Consequently, these cities also recorded lower rates of fresh cases of psychosis, as per the study.
Facts contradicting study
A couple of facts however, contradict the study. For instance, while a lot of people across the world have been using weed, a corresponding increase in the rates of psychosis have not been recorded. This was countered by the study authors by pointing out that cities which had more high-THC weed products in the market showed a higher rate of fresh diagnosis of psychotic episodes.
Dr. Diana Martinez, an addiction researcher at the Columbia University, further pointed out that the study did not prove that cannabis caused psychosis, as this was not supported by the data. In order to prove causality, the researchers would need to closely monitor people from the time they did not use weed to the time they started using it, and years later when they actually developed psychosis. Apart from this, among all other kinds of data, genetic information and a lot of other factors were also required to positively establish causality.
Seeking treatment for drug abuse
Marijuana is a highly addictive substance, the use of which may lead to debilitating short- and long-term consequences. If you or a loved one is battling with an addiction to marijuana or any other drug and is looking for reliable drug detox centers in California, feel free to reach out to the Hillside Mission. Our drug detox clinics in California offer comprehensive evidence-based detox treatment plans for substance abuse.